How Access Bank created more possibilities last year

When it comes to financial services such as borrowing funds for investment and business expansion, investors consider a lot of factors including the strength of an institution and its product offerings.

Some investors are always cautious of approaching some financial institutions due to high interest, documentation procedure and other challenging issues. But one institution that has bonded with stakeholders in achieving possibilities is Access Bank Plc.

Access Bank Plc, one of Nigeria’s Systemic Important Banks (SIB) and largest lender by asset, is today confident and beating its chest that it created more possibilities in the just concluded year, 2021.

This, the bank summed up into six major areas of achievement. These are awards, rewards, women empowerment initiatives, building Africa’s gateway, innovation and sustainability.

In terms of women empowerment initiatives, the bank disbursed 4,566 loans to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to the tune of N14.08 billion and 135 loans worth N236.2 million through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund to launch the (LSETF)/W initiative.

Last year featured 100 mini MBA winners, five grant winners of N9.3 million, five website creation winners, and five online marketing winners at Womenpreneur Pitch-a-ton Africa 2021.

Babies delivered through the bank’s MHSS grew to 76. The bank was awarded best bank for women entrepreneurs’ global SME finance 2021.

Innovation

With Access charge, merchants can now accept contactless transactions: Bluetooth, OR code, USSD, card reader, and face pay, using their smartphones or tablet.

The bank’s invoice discounting enables the digitisation of invoice discounting transactions and supply chain management operations for businesses.

Through the bank’s innovation, 13 start-ups were provided support through Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF).

In the area of rewards, 991 DiamondXtra account holders won salary4life. Also N10 million cash and lots of consolation prizes were given to customers in the year under review.

On this still, 960 account holders were rewarded in xtrawins promo, while 31 customers became millionaires in the Independence Day draw and mega draw.

Sustainability

The bank invested N10.01 billion in various Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts. It impacted over 1,096 communities and 587,249 lives. It also reached out to over 430 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) as employees volunteered over 495,561 hours committed to various projects/initiatives.

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Access Bank empowered 240 entrepreneurs through green social entrepreneurship, as well as launched the second corporate bond impact report.

The bank recorded 400 Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), 150 offsite locations/branches powered by solar. It established a paper-to-pencil initiative where it recycled and converted its old branded paper materials to pencils and distributed them to over 10,028 students. The bank launched an aggressive Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission reduction initiative.

In terms of building Africa’s gateway, the bank established subsidiaries in South Africa, Botswana and Guinea.

Following the completion of all regulatory procedures in May 2021, Grobank Limited was officially renamed Access Bank South Africa Limited. The deal was finalized after Access Bank’s acquisition of controlling shares in the former Grobank Limited, South Africa.

With this new development, Access Bank South Africa Limited was positioned to deliver a robust banking operation that connects key African markets.

During an official closing ceremony in Sandton last year, top executives of the two banks were upbeat about new opportunities for clients, noting that the Bank would continue to support all its stakeholders while opening doors to growth opportunities both in the short and long term.

“This is an extremely exciting day for the South African banking industry. Our corporate customers will now have increased access to trade finance, treasury, international payments and loans through the wider distribution network offered by Access Bank’s presence in the key trade corridors that connect Africa to the rest of the world,” Bennie van Rooy, CEO of Grobank said.

“Banking with Access Bank South Africa means greater security as well as access to more products and services through a best-in-class digital platform, and a full retail banking suite will soon be on offer.”

Herbert Wigwe, CEO of Access Bank Plc, said: “Today’s ceremony in South Africa seals our commitment to delivering our strategic aspirations of becoming Africa’s Gateway to the World, in line with our vision to be the World’s Most Respected African Bank.

“We look forward to the many opportunities our collective experience and deep understanding of the African market brings to our valued clients, and the journey ahead being one of great promise for our institution and the continent.”

In the area of awards, Access Bank was declared Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria by International Banker Awards.

Other awards include Most Sustainable Bank Nigeria by World Finance Award, Sustainable bank of the year, Africa by International Investors awards, best mobile banking App Africa, by Global brands Magazine awards, Best digital bank in Africa by Euromoney awards, Outstanding leadership in Green loans by Global Finance, Sustainable Finance award.

The bank also earned awards in the following categories, outstanding response to Covid-19 branchless banking by Middle East and Africa retail banking innovation awards, sustainability award pan-Africa by EMEA Finance African banking awards, outstanding business sustainability achievement, Karlsruhe sustainable finance awards, No. 1 safest bank in Nigeria by Global Finance, and Global SMEs finance 2021 best bank for women entrepreneur.

Speaking during womenpreneur graduation in 2021, Wigwe said, “We have always believed that women deserve quality education, the same rights as men, equal access to financial services, and equal decision-making power at the managerial level”.

“In 2014, we launched our W initiative, led by women for women. It is the home of everything Access Bank offers to support women.

“With W, we are committed to playing a pivotal role in the empowerment of women not just economically, but in terms of their general well-being as well”.

He noted that earlier in 2006, the bank partnered with the International Finance Corporation to develop products specifically for female entrepreneurs, adding that Access Bank was one of the first African banks to provide dedicated credit lines for female-owned businesses.

“We have a Gender Empowerment Program, which provides training in business and management, offers free financial advisory services, tailored loan products and credit facilities.

The program is there to help you every step of the way in creating a sustainable and successful enterprise including the preparation of your business plan,” Wigwe said.

After leading the bank to establish presence in 11 African countries, Wigwe, group managing director/CEO of Access Bank further demonstrated his strategic leadership through leading the bank to a successful $1 billion Eurobond issuance, last year.

The bank Plc last year successfully issued an additional $500 million tier-1 Eurobond, coming in less than two weeks after the bank issued a $500 million Eurobond.

The offering, according to Renaissance Capital, a leading emerging and frontier markets investment bank, enjoyed strong investor demand, highlighting the positive perception of the Bank’s credit story and the management’s clear strategy. Regulatory approvals allowed Access Bank to comfortably tap markets for a benchmark USD500mn AT1 transaction – the first from a Nigerian bank.

Access Bank Plc. is a leading full-service commercial Bank operating through a network of more than 600 branches and service outlets, spanning three continents, 12 countries and 31 million customers. The Bank employs 28,000 people in its operations in Nigeria and has subsidiaries in Sub-Saharan Africa and the United Kingdom (with a branch in Dubai, UAE) and representative offices in China, Lebanon and India.

Listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange since 1998, Access Bank is a diversified financial institution which combines a strong retail customer franchise and digital platform with deep corporate banking expertise and proven risk management and capital management capabilities. The Bank serves its various markets through four business segments: Retail, Business, Commercial and Corporate.

The Bank has over 900,000 shareholders (including several Nigerian and International Institutional Investors) and has enjoyed what is arguably Africa’s most successful banking growth trajectory in the last twelve years. Following its merger with Diamond Bank in March 2019, Access Bank became one of Africa’s largest retail banks by retail customer base.

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